Monday, July 2, 2012

Exalting God Among the Nations


God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God. The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High, God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. — Psalm 46:1-6
 
By Kathleen Curto
GPTS Registrar

Just a few months ago Dr. Pipa read Psalm 46 to us during our staff meeting devotional. He mentioned that the first three verses are a description of the world of chaos and discord in which we live, but then reminded us that verse 4 contrasts the chaos of the world with the peace that can only be realized as it comes from the God of peace to His children. As he spoke, I was struck with that contrast, that though we live in the midst of the confusion and bedlam of this present world, we are at peace, because we serve the God of Peace. How we rejoice in that truth here at Greenville Seminary! 

It is with joy that I report to you that this past year we have been able to assist two foreign students who would otherwise not have been able to attend Greenville Seminary. The first, Isaac Koko from Nigeria, applied twice to procure a student visa to come and study here in Greenville, but his application was rejected for no apparent reason. However, that did not stop Isaac from studying. He completed one course in the Spring of 2012 and is eagerly awaiting the start of the Fall semester in order to take another course. He does also plan to apply once again for his visa, so please pray that God will open the doors and allow the necessary approval for him to move to Greenville. In order to be prepared for when God may open this door, we are raising approximately $5,000.00 to cover his tuition and fees, and an additional $5,000.00 for his living expenses per year.

Our second foreign student, Mr. Xing Liu, is living in Greenville and studying diligently. He came to us from the Minnesota area, but is originally from mainland China. Mr. Liu moved with his wife and two children to Greenville last August, and he and his family have been a wonderful addition to our student body. He has done very well in his classes and has exceeded our expectations in terms of his class work and involvement in seminary life. His home church in Minnesota continues to assist him with his living expenses, and so we have once again agreed to waive his tuition this year in the amount of $4,500.00.

Our last need in the area of foreign student support is to help pay expenses for faculty members to minister in churches overseas that are unable to afford to send their students here. This summer Dr. Pipa has had the opportunity to minister in Belgium and Italy with current Greenville students and alumni. He hopes to be able to travel to South Africa in March 2013 to teach and to travel once again to Belgium next summer. The value of these trips is critical, and we have once again set the faculty travel support at $4,500.00.

Why do we feel constrained to help these young men from other nations to receive the training that they desire? What is our confidence as we continue to train men for the gospel ministry? Psalm 46 concludes with verses 10 and 11 that give us the answer to those questions: Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us, The God of Jacob is our refuge.
 
We praise God that Greenville Seminary can have a small part in that work. Thank you for your faithful support, and may God bless you as you consider these needs once again as part of your giving to our scholarship funding for international students.
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NOTE: GPTS is able to receive tax-exempt contributions directly for support of international students. However, if donors wish to receive a tax benefit, the donation cannot specify a designated student. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, a good mechanism is our International Student Scholarship Fund administered by the PCA Foundation. Specify GPTS Fund #4075. For more information, read the article on scholarships below right.


PCA General Assembly Sidesteps Escalating Controversies 


The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America seemed reluctant to escalate controversy on four disputed topics at its 40th annual gathering in Louisville, Ky. in June, opting instead to rely on previous pronouncements and historic confessions or deferring decisions for a year.

The hotly debated issues included:
  • Admission of very young children who have not made a public profession of faith to the Lord’s Supper.
  • Theistic evolution and the historical reality of Adam.
  • The legitimacy of a growing practice to serve the bread and wine/juice of the Lord’s Supper as a single element.
  • The church’s response to so-called “insider movements,” efforts to blend Islam and Christianity.
Three presbyteries had approved men for ordination who hold to paedo-communion (admitting to the Lord’s Table very young children, perhaps even infants). The Assembly concluded that responses of a committee in the three cases were not consistent with one another, and remanded the cases to the committee for report to next year’s Assembly. Conservatives seeking official clarity on the issue warned that the problem of paedo-communion (said to be contrary to the PCA’s standards in substantive ways) is a growing problem in the church and a violation of Scripture’s requirement for self-examination and discernment when partaking of communion. Supporters of the practice claim there are covenantal parallels between the Lord’s Supper and infant baptism. A number of GPTS alumni and supporters opposed the practice during debate.

Two overtures had proposed that the G.A. make a definitive new official statement condemning theistic evolution and affirming that Adam was directly formed by God out of substance that God had created ex nihilo (out of nothing). Instead, the Assembly approved a third overture arguing that such a statement was not necessary, as church standards are already sufficiently clear. Conservatives, including many associated with Greenville Seminary, argued that previous pronouncements apparently are not sufficient, since theistic evolution and doubts about the special creation of Adam continue to grow within the church and its educational institutions. Ultimately, this means that cases regarding ordained men who hold these views will have to be brought through the church courts for adjudication.

The third issue dealt with the practice of “intinction” — serving the Lord’s Supper by dipping the bread or wafer into the wine or juice, thus combining  the two sacramental acts of eating and drinking into one. One overture proposed that changes to the Book of Church Order be prepared  to make it explicitly clear that such a practice is contrary to the PCA’s constitution. This overture was approved. Thus there will be during the next year a great deal of discussion of the practice in PCA presbyteries. It was clear from the debate that this practice, though performed by a minority, is growing within the PCA. Proponents say it facilitates communicants sharing hygienically in a “common cup” and thus promotes unity. Opponents say intinction blurs the spiritual distinctions between and significance of the separate elements of the bread and wine/juice.

Last year, the G.A. formed a special committee to study “insider movements” and their effect on Bible translations and evangelization of Muslims. The committee reported that there are a number of “insider movements” in Muslim countries that claim the Biblical language of father and son referring to God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, inhibits the evangelization of Muslims. Bible translations have arisen that avoid the father-son terminology in reference to God and Jesus Christ and use such terms as "guardian" and "representative" instead. “Insider” advocates say Muslims who profess Jesus may continue with Muslim worship practices since Islam's Allah and the Christian God are one and the same, but opponents say this is unbiblical syncretism. (See videos here.) Debate at the G.A. concerned the accuracy of parts of the committee report, and some claimed it improperly impugned the practices of certain well-known Bible translation organizations. The committee was extended for another year, and a full report will be brought to next year’s Assembly in Greenville, S.C.

(Editor's Note: Dr. Benjamin Shaw contributed substantially to the above report. For his commentary on the G.A. debates, visit his GPTSRabbi blog.)

Islam Course Upcoming in Fall Semester


The global march of Islam continues unabated, even as the Christian church is just beginning to awaken to the need to witness the Gospel of Christ to its adherents. At the same time, new threats of Muslim/Christian syncretism are growing.

Greenville Seminary's unique course on Islam is designed to prepare Christians for an appropriate biblical response as part of an effective apologetic (defense) of our faith and an evangelistic outreach.

The course will be taught again this fall at GPTS on an intensive schedule by Dr. Anees Zaka of Church Without Walls, Philadelphia. Classes will be held as follows:
  • Monday, Sept. 10 – 6-10 p.m.
  • Tuesday - Friday, Sept. 11-14 – 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:30 -5:00 p.m.
The course is available for enrollment by the public on an audit basis. Contact Registrar Kathleen Curto (registrar@gpts.edu) for details.

Are you interested in a more comprehensive understanding and facility of witness regarding Islam? Consider applying for admission to our new Master of Arts in Apologetics and Islam degree program. The program includes four courses focusing on Islam:
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Introduction to the Qur'an
  • Life of Muhammad
  • Exegesis of the Qur'an

In addition, the course of study includes:

  • Apologetics
  • Introduction to Reformed Theology
  • Prolegomena and Theology
  • Man and Sin
  • Christ and Salvation
  • Ecclesiology and Polity
  • Eschatology
  • Missions
  • Evangelism
  • Ethics
  • Medieval Church History
  • Reformation Church History

"Insider Movement" Blurring Christian/Muslim Distinctions


Faithful Christians in Muslim countries are now face growing opposition no one expected from Western Christian missionaries that support "insiders" — so-called "born-again Muslims" who continue to live and worship as Muslims while claiming to inwardly follow Jesus. As "insiders" siphon off support from the West, the pressure increases upon the faithful men who refuse to minister in secret and to hide the light of the world behind a mask of darkness. Some Western missionaries are removing "Son of God" from Bible translations produced for so-called Insider Movements. Concerns about the Insider Movement were debated at the Presbyterian Church in America General Assemble in June.

In the videos below, hear Asians talk about the impact of this movement, in their own words. The makers of the videos are creating a new documentary, "Half Devil, Half Child," concerning the growing problem of Western mission agencies and seminaries blending Christianity with Islam. GPTS is securing a copy of this film, due out this Fall. If possible, we hope to schedule a public showing when available. For more information, check out the following:
Website: www.halfdevilhalfchild.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Half-Devil-Half-Child/321082407911665 

GPTS Summer Institute on Conflict Resolution

"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there will be conflict." At least, that’s how some are wont to paraphrase the verse. Of course, any careful look at life in the church confirms this to be true. Yet, our Lord says that the world has a right to judge the genuineness of our faith by our love for one another. Conflict, and how we handle it, will therefore, of necessity be an important part of ministry in Christ’s church. Today's pastors and counselors frequently cite "Conflict Resolution" as a growing concern in their ministries. That subject, subtitled "Exploring Ways to Prevent,  Shepherd and Redeem Conflict in the Church," will be the topic of the 2012 GPTS Summer Institute July 30-August 3.

Together we’ll explore the roots of conflict and focus on methods to deal with it biblically. Preventing unnecessary trouble as well as preparing to handle it personally, pastorally and institutionally will be our focus. We will also examine the principles, attitudes and commitments of Scripture that enable us to be good stewards of the conflicts that God chooses to send our way. Shepherding God’s flock through such periods, so that they become periods of blessing and growth, will be our goal. You will be equipped with practical materials and skills to deal with conflict in the church redemptively. [DOWNLOAD BROCHURE]

Dr. Kevin Backus, pastor of Grand Island Bible Presbyterian Church in New York, who has done much training and teaching in the area of biblical counseling and conflict resolution, will be teaching this week-long course. Mark your calendars now, and plan to join us for this informative time of training.

Tuition for the Summer Institute is $225. The conference schedule is as follows:
  • Monday, July 30: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, July 31-Aug. 1-2: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 3: 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
For more information and late registration, visit www.gpts.edu/pastors. For recommended textbooks, go here.

Also on the summer schedule is our summer theology course, to be held July 23-27. Dr. Morton Smith will again teach his popular course, Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology. These lectures continue to be a favorite among students, elders, and Christians of all ages. The course is popular because it covers a wide range of topics through the instrumentality of those most interesting and sometimes controversial Southern Presbyterians.

For recommended books, go here.

The dates and times for the classes are as follows:
  • Monday, July 23: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. 
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, July 24 - July 26: 9 a.m. - 12 noon and 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, July 27: 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Confessing Our Hope Podcast

Our Internet-radio ministry continues to grow. Listen to the GPTS Web-based Radio Broadcasts, with new interviews weekly! Visit Host William Hill's new Confessing Our Hope Blog for news and information about the broadcast as well as access to all program recordings. Podcasts can also be accessed through our mobile web site. See information about this site for your specific mobile device below. Our new "app" for smartphones and tablets also provides access to the podcast. Get the app here or go to the iPhone App Store or your Android market place from you device.

New at Katekōmen

κατέχω - Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.... Hebrews 10:23

Check out new articles  at our online journal Katekōmen, including a heart-warming fictitious "open letter" from a father to his infant daughter concerning the precious meaning of her covenant baptism: "Dearest Ashley, Child of the Covenant," by Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. 
 
(In a related matter, the GPTS family extends congratulations to Dr. and Mrs. Pipa on the recent birth of another grandson, Jonah Benjamin Pipa, the fourth son of Joey and Ronda Pipa of Greer, S.C. . Born June 19, 8 lb., 2 oz, 20 in. More details on Joey's Facebook page.)

GPTS Men in New Denominational Leadership Roles

Two GPTS men were elevated to leadership roles during their respective Presbyterian denominations' national assemblies in June.

Dr. Tony Curto, associate  professor of practical theology in missions and apologetics, was elected moderator of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church at its General Assembly in Wheaton, Ill. Dr. Curto was a pastor for 15 years in Southern California, serving as a regional home missionary in Southern California for 2 years. For 9 years, he served the OPC foreign missions committee as a missionary evangelist to Uganda and continues his service as a part-time missionary evangelist to Ethiopia. He will be teaching apologetics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich. this Fall.
 
GPTS Board Member Jeffrey J. Kingswood was chosen moderator of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church at the ARP's General Synod in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Rev. Kingswood is pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church of Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. He is a former editor of the Pioneer Christian Monthly and has served on the board of the London Ligonier Study Centre (Ligonier Ministries of Canada). Rev. Kingswood's election came during a meeting once again marked by heated controversy over the ARP's affiliation with Erskine College and Seminary, which conservatives claim have drifted into liberalism on several fronts.

Hilary Walton Honored at Air National Guard Retirement

Senior Master Sergeant Hilary Walton, wife of 2012 GPTS graduate Steve Walton, received the Air Force Distinguish Service Medal during a formal Dining Out Retirement Ceremony at Tysen-McGhee Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, Tenn. June 25.

SMSgt. Walton, a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music, retired from the 572nd Tennessee ANG Band, with which she played French horn and a number of other instruments since 1999. Her retirement culminated 32 years of service with the Army and Air Force. Among her many achievements was her role in developing a training program for musicians deployed with military bands into war zones. Hilary's band served briefly in Afghanistan, during which time she served as the unit's troop commander.



Hilary and Steve, also a former Army band musician (tuba player), along with their sons Sam (right) and Branch (front), are preparing for an upcoming move to Stuttgart, Germany, where Steve will be working to plant a new church to serve U.S. military personnel from several command headquarters units nearby. Their service will be under the auspices of Ministry to the Military International, a project of the PCA's Southeast Alabama Presbytery. 

Steve was sworn in as an Army chaplain on the Fourth of July by former Air Force Col. Bill Wilder, a friend of GPTS. The Waltons require additional financial support before they will be able to take up their new ministry. If you wish to contribute, send checks to "Stuttgart Church Plant," PO Box 657, Waynesville NC 28786. Contact Steve at walton.steven.k@gmail.com.

The Waltons met while serving together in the U.S. Army-Europe Band in Heidelberg, Germany, and were married in the famous Heidelberg castle. They have been part of a brass ensemble that has performed at the GPTS Spring Theology Conferences and other events for the past several years. Their music will be missed.

Waddy Anderson Memorial

Greenville Seminary acknowledges the passing into glory of long-time supporter Waddy McFall Anderson, Jr. of Greenville, S.C. on June 15, 2012. He was 87.

Mr. Anderson was born on the Fourth of July 1924 and served as a Navy aviator during World War II. His career was with the Coca Cola Bottling Company of Greenville, a family business from which he retired as president in 1982.

He is survived by his wife, Allene Peterson Anderson; five children, Waddy M. III (June); Walter G; Charles E., Lucretia (Mrs. Arthur Tackman) and John F. (Judy); ten grandchildren; fifteen great grandchildren; and his sister, Mrs. James T. Pearce (Kit). 

Memorial services were conducted June 17 at Greenville's Second Presbytrerian Church, of which he was a faithful member.

The family requests that memorial gifts be sent to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, PO Box 690, Taylors SC 29687 or Second Presbyterian Church, 105 River St., Greenville, SC 29601.

Financial Report

The tables below show our General Fund and Capital Fund financial condition as of the end of June 2012, the final month of our 2011-12 fiscal year. General fund donations of $744,971 this fiscal year compare with donations of $811,280 during FY2010-11, a decrease of $66,309. 

With the usually austere summer months upon us, please prayerfully consider how you might help provide the seminary with a solid financial foundation as we begin new fiscal year this month and our new academic year in August.


General Fund for June 2012
June Budget June Actual June  Actual v. Budget
Expenses $80,250 $80,148 -$102
Donation
Income
$62,133 $64,441 +$2,308
Other Income $18,190 $5,707 -$12,483
Total Income $80,323 $70,148 -$15,824
Net Income $73 -$10,000 -$10,073
Fiscal Year to Date Budget Fiscal Year to Date Actual Fiscal Year to Date Actual v. Budget
Expenses $963,029 $969,175 +$6,146
Donation
Income
$745,600 $744,971 -$629
Other Income $218,270 $217,405 -$865
Total Income $963,870 $962,376 -$1,494
Net Income $841 -$6,799 -$7,640


The chart below indicates that the total of donations received and pledged to the Capital Campaign to date exceeds our original goal of $3.5 million by $10,651. While that figure alone is exciting news, the goal set in 2003 did not fully rise to the amount of the actual mortgage and capital expenses we incurred. The proceeds of a large cash-and-property bequest in recent months have allowed us to bring our outstanding mortgage debt down to $889,794 and greatly reduced our monthly mortgage payment, creating a positive effect on our overall monthly outlays. Although our original goal has been met, we still are in need of designated funds to pay off the mortgage and complete the campaign objectives. We praise God and our supporters for the great progress that has been made since we moved into our beautiful new campus in 2008.

Capital Fund Update
Goal $3,500,000
Received $2,920,575
Long-term Pledges Outstanding $590,075
Total Received and Pledged $3,510,650
Outstanding Obligations $35,000
Monthly Note $4,987
Remaining Mortgage $889,794

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate" button below. Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: Spread the Word! Do you know someone that would be interested in learning more about our organization or supporting us? If so, fill out the form here and an e-mail message with a link to our website will be sent to them. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.


Sharing in the Advancement of GPTS

Visit the GPTS Development Office web site for information on ways to support and spread the word about Greenville Seminary:


2011 Conference DVD's Now For Sale

A set of DVDs of the 2011 Conference on the Holy Spirit is available for $55.00:
 
 

The Greenville Seminary 2011 Summer Institute on Creation featured Dr. Jonathan Sarfati and Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. The week-long course is available on DVD for $55.00, postage paid. Order here.  









The 2012 Spring Theology Conference commemorating the 200th anniversary of Princeton Seminary is available for listening at SermonAudio. Click here.